Much has been written about the terrorist outrages in France in recent days and their implications for press freedom. This atrocity has already had a chilling effect on the freedom of expression – witness the machinations in newsrooms across the world about whether to reproduce the front cover of Charlie Hebdo that caused so much offence in the first place and whether to reproduce this week’s response from the satirical magazine. While we would never go out of our way to offend, we often do. Sometimes it’s because of our acerbic columnists, sometimes it is our treatment of a story and sometimes it is our editorial stance.
Often it is because we have had the temerity to cover a story at all. If the press is to be truly considered to be free that is the way it has to be. In this country, there are far more insidious threats to press freedom. There is the ever-expanding statute book with more and more restrictions on what we can and cannot publish, the clamour for ever-greater regulation and the flagrant disregard for our right to protect our sources. The best regulator has always been and will always be our readers. If they don’t like what we do, they will stop buying the paper or clicking on our stories. And that’s the way it should be.
Herne Bay Gazette, January 15th 2015